New Research Says Inclement Weather Can Worsen Chronic Pain Associated with Arthritis and Fibromyalgia
According to a study out of the University of Manchester, people who suffer from these and other ailments may experience more pain on humid and windy days.
If you have ever questioned why you have heightened pain associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, and neuropathic aches when the weather is sticky or when the wind is gusty, you may finally have the answers. A new study conducted by the University of Manchester asked 2,600 participants with chronic pain to record their symptoms in a smartphone app over the course of six months. Researchers then used GPS data to determine what weather conditions were like in each participant's region on that day. The study, dubbed "Cloudy with a Chance of Pain," found that on humid, windy weather days, people were 20% more likely to experience pain.
Will Dixon, a professor of Digital Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, led the charge on this study and believes that pain related to weather has occurred for a long time. "Weather has been thought to affect symptoms in patients with arthritis since Hippocrates," Dixon said. "Around three quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather."
High humidity and wind weren't the only factors that led participants to experience heightened pain. Responses also showed that days with low pressure were associated with more symptoms in participants. "The analysis showed that on a damp and windy days with low pressure the chances of experiencing more pain, compared to an average day, was around 20%," Dixon said. "This would mean that, if your chances of a painful day on an average weather day were 5 in 100, they would increase to 6 in 100 on a damp and windy day."
While the study took place in the United Kingdom, the research can help anyone with chronic pain to better understand their symptoms. "The results of this study could be important for patients in the future for two reasons. Given we can forecast the weather, it may be possible to develop a pain forecast knowing the relationship between weather and pain," Dixon said. "This would allow people who suffer from chronic pain to plan their activities, completing harder tasks on days predicted to have lower levels of pain. The dataset will also provide information to scientists interested in understanding the mechanisms of pain, which could ultimately open the door to new treatments."